American Rookies Produce Four Different Stories

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Brett Wetterich and Vaughn Taylor can debate whether it was better to have played and lost than never to have played at all. J.J. Henry and Zach Johnson, meanwhile, both got their chance and learned what it's like to come through in the clutch at the Ryder Cup.
 
The four American rookies produced four different stories -- not all of them as bad as many U.S. fans might have feared -- in Friday's opening rounds.
 
J.J. Henry
J.J. Henry teamed with Stewart Cink to secure a half point in the morning fourball session.
Henry's tale was best. He made long birdie putts on the back nine to start a rally from 3 down and earn a tie and a half point against Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson in the morning better-ball match.
 
'I was determined to go out this morning and play well and prove to everybody that I belonged on this team,' said Henry, giving mention to the many who felt the 31-year-old, with one PGA Tour win, was in over his head.
 
He played well enough alongside Stewart Cink that by the end of the day, with the Americans trailing Europe 5-3, some were wondering why Henry wasn't in the lineup for foursomes, too.
 
Instead, it was Johnson who made his debut in the afternoon, teaming with Chad Campbell. Like Henry, Johnson overcame a rough start to help his team pull out another half point. He and Campbell were 2 down to Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley after 15 holes.
 
'I just said, `You know what, we could possibly lose this,'' Johnson said. 'The way things were going ... it was kind of looking that way.'
 
Johnson looked every bit the nervous rookie when he blew a 3-foot putt that would have won the hole on 13, then again when he took the wrong line and the wrong speed on a putt on 15 that gave Europe the 2-up lead.
 
But on the par-5 16th, he hit what might have been the shot of the day -- a pinpoint 3-wood across the River Liffey that landed safely on the green. That resulted in an easy two-putt for birdie to trim the deficit to one. On 18, he coolly read and sank a 3-footer -- the same kind he had missed earlier -- to halve the match.
 
'The last three holes, he played like a champion,' Lehman said. 'He came off that 18th green a better player.'
 
Johnson and Henry combined to produce one point for America -- not exactly Jack Nicklaus numbers, but not bad, either.
 
Wetterich was the only rookie who played and didn't earn anything. He and David Toms were involved in the day's only lopsided match, a 3-and-2 loss in better-ball to Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia, who was incredibly good all day.
 
'I'm eager to get back out there,' said Wetterich, who acknowledged he was nervous at the beginning. 'I think it's important to get me back out there, to let me know that he still has confidence in me to go out there and play well.'
 
But Lehman did not put Wetterich in the lineup for Saturday morning's better-ball matches. He also left Taylor on the bench, meaning the 30-year-old rookie will be the lone golfer on either team to not play in any of the first three rounds.
 
Johnson will team with Scott Verplank on Saturday morning, and Henry will go back out with Cink.
 
'Just a great, great day,' Henry called his Ryder Cup debut. 'I'm really proud of the way I played, Stewart and I, especially after digging a hole for ourselves at 3 down at the turn.
 
'To turn it around on the back was great, and hopefully it will give us some momentum for tomorrow and Sunday.'
 
Related Links:
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.